#97 – New Net Promoter System podcast, two CX books I read recently, bad experience with ‘Fruit’ company, Reicheld and Owen on WSJ article


Bain Net Promoter System podcast with… me. Two good CX books I have just read. company sometimes goes rotten, and Fred Reichheld reflects on the WSJ article on NPS. The five topics this week are:

  1. My 10th Bain Net Promoter System podcast
  2. ‘The Human Brand’ and ‘Yellow Goldfish’ – Two CX books I enjoyed
  3. Latest blog posts – New series on NPS continues
  4. Notable items from other sites – ‘Fruit’ support, Reichheld and Owen on the WSJ article
  5. Looking forward

My 10th Bain Net Promoter System podcast

Readers who received my newsletter last week know that I was interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article on NPS. Rob Markey and I recorded a Net Promoter System podcast to discuss and reply to the article. I have to say that Rob was somewhat more emotional than he usually is during his podcasts. It was my tenth recording with him, and I think I had the most fun with this one.

We had an extensive discussion about the main new point that one of the journalists raised, which was the increasing use of unexplained NPS numbers in annual reports and earnings calls by S&P 500 companies. We feel it is a good thing that CEOs are able to talk about customer experience trends at the same time as they talk about financial performance. It is just an unfortunate fact of life that there is no recognized or required standard for such disclosures. Ideally, their customer experience numbers should come from recognized double-blind benchmark research providers. An alternative would be syndicated research using a standard methodology, such as the Prism methodology recently launched by Bain and Qualtrics.

Overall, we felt the WSJ article was a positive one, despite a negative headline. We used the podcast to reinforce various points about how you can ensure your metrics are considered to be trusted and reliable within your company.

If you have not subscribed to the podcast you can find it here.

Two customer experience books I have read recently

Yes, I try to constantly read books about business strategy, behavioral economics, and customer experience. I feel I still have a lot to learn, despite my age and experience. Here are a few words about two books I have read and enjoyed recently.

The Human Brand was written some time ago by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske. In an illustration of how much I still have to learn, the authors introduced me to a customer experience model that I had never heard of and that appears to be well-known. It is the ‘warmth and competency’ model. The central message of the book is that our attitudes towards people, products, and companies are determined by these two factors. I read warmth as being about our perceptions of empathy and positive intentions towards us. Competency is about the ability to execute as expected or promised.

The book is full of stories about companies and individuals that have done better or worse jobs of exhibiting these two attributes. The stories come from the mega-companies we know and scale right down to one about a dentist who insists on doing teeth-cleaning work himself because it is easier to have a conversation with a patient while that is going on than when he is extracting a tooth. I learned a lot and hope you will too. There is a website for the book here.

Yellow Goldfish was written by Stan Phelps and Rosaria Cirillo Louwman. I love the central theme: happiness! The overall message is that companies can ensure success by making customers happier than they were before their latest interaction or experience with a product or service. Stan and Rosaria represent happiness at the top of a Maslow-like motivation hierarchy, and suggest we measure the Happiness Contribution Factor, as represented in this illustration:

This is the ninth book in Stan’s Goldfish series, the only one that is in collaboration with Rosaria. Each book title mentions a different color. For Stan, a goldfish is a great symbol of something that is small and can make a big difference, despite its size. A goldfish metaphor also helps to communicate things like competition (the number of other goldfish in the pond) and the market (the quality of water in the pond). Yellow was chosen for communication about customer experience because it is a warm primary color and because (surprisingly) of the yellow color of the original ‘smiley face’ by American artist Harvey Ross Ball.

True to its metaphors, the book is filled with wonderful examples of small things people have done and behaviors they have adopted that have made major differences for customers, employees, and indeed for entire companies. A fun read! Rosaria has created a site for the book here.


Our latest blog posts

Two posts on this list are part of my extensive and deep series about the Net Promoter System. Articles I read about Elon Musk’s compensation package made me interrupt the series with a post on a different subject entirely. Older posts are still available on the blog page.

image Tesla, Elon Musk, and the new financial apartheid

A story about the extreme differences between those at the top and those whose lives must be sacrificed so that their leaders can receive excessive compensation packages. The blog starts like this:

José Luis Martínez* started work at as usual at Tesla’s Fremont plant on a January morning earlier this year. He was in his third year as a ‘maintenance technician’, ensuring…

image NPS (3) – Net Promoter System Framework, ensuring metric is trusted

The NPS metric is just one part of a much larger system. The Bain & Company Net Promoter System Framework has five elements, as shown in the diagram.

image NPS (2) – Basics and history of the Net Promoter Score and System

This series supposes the reader is already familiar with the basics of the Net Promoter System, and ideally has read The Ultimate Question 2.0 by Fred Reichheld and Rob Markey.…

Notable customer experience items from other sites

‘Fruit’ support screws up

My former colleague Dr. James Borderick recently had a rather negative support interaction with a company whose name he has disguised here, just calling it ‘fruit’. I know him as a passionate promoter of said company’s products and can understand his discretion. As he puts it, “My first support engagement in a while with a certain fruit company has led me to believe that a once NPS leader is not what it once was. Multiple failures along the support journey coupled with a very bad customer success manager interaction at the close have pushed me to write this article.”

Read his disappointing story here.

Richard Own and Fred Reichheld comment on the WSJ NPS article

Here are what will probably be my last mentions of the Wall Street Journal story on NPS. The original inventor, Fred Reichheld, responded on LinkedIn and included this noteworthy phrase, ‘Instead of NPS, perhaps I should have called the system “NLE,” for Net Lives Enriched. After all, that is what NPS really measures.’ Read his full response here.

Richard Owen was CEO of Satmetrix at the time NPS was invented and led the research that proved that Promoters generally do indeed talk to others about your product or service, and the related behaviors of Passives and Detractors. Richard’s thoughtful response includes useful content on the validity of NPS as a metric, among a variety of other topics. Worth a read here.


Looking forward

Not much on my calendar at the moment, so I will try to publish two blogs per week over the coming month or so.

Here are links to all of our books on Amazon.com. Kindle versions are available in all stores. Print versions are available from the major stores only. And as of two weeks ago, you can find the books, or at least order them in many bookstores. If you have already read any of our books, please write reviews on Amazon.

Customer Experience Strategy – Design & Implementation

Net Promoter – Implement the System

Customer-centric Cost Reduction

“So Happy Here”: The Absurdist but Essential Guide to Better Business (Color edition)

“So Happy Here”: The Absurdist but Essential Guide to Better Business (Black & White edition)

Please share this newsletter with your friends and colleagues and encourage them to sign up for it here. I have put links to past newsletters on the subscription page. Finally, please feel free to change or cancel your subscription using the link below.

You can also email me, Maurice FitzGerald, at mfg@customerstrategy.net.

To change your subscription, click here.